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Halvorson, Mary : Code Girl [VINYL] (Firehouse 12 Records)

Always open to new approaches, NY guitarist Mary Halvorson takes her trio with drummer Tomas Fujiwara and bassist Michael Formanek, adds trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and, in a twist of the thumbscrew, vocalist Amirtha Kidambi, for a mix of song and instrumental pieces that balance jazz and rock sensibilities with lyricism, intricate lines, and creative spirit.
 

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UPC: 0711574834310

Label: Firehouse 12 Records
Catalog ID: FH12-04-08-027
Squidco Product Code: 26039

Format: 2 LPs
Condition: New
Released: 2018
Country: USA
Packaging: LP - Gatefold
Recorded at Firehouse 12, in Brooklyn, New York, on December 16th and 17th, 2016, by Nick Lloyd.


Personnel:

Amirtha Kidambi-voice

Ambrose Akinmusire-trumpet

Mary Halvorson-guitar

Michael Formanek-bass

Tomas Fujiwara-drums

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Artist Biographies:

"Amirtha Kidambi "takes a holistic approach to singing, which can mean treating every element as unfixed: Words can be opened up, rendered nonspecific. Melody can be repeated and frozen and stuck in place. Markings of rhythm can become utterly abstract, freed from cadence." (New York Times). Kidambi is the bandleader of Elder Ones and a soloist and collaborator in groups including Mary Halvorson's newest quintet Code Girl, Charlie Looker's early music inspired dark folk band Seaven Teares, Darius Jones' vocal quartet Elizabeth-Caroline Unit and Samesoul Maker and Pat Spadine's analog percussion and light ensemble Ashcan Orchestra. As Ben Ratliff wrote in the New York Times, "the aggressive and sublime first album by the band Elder Ones, Holy Science, is a kind of gauge for how strong and flexible the scene of young musicians in New York's improvised and experimental music world can be. At the center of it are drones and phonemes. The group's leader, the composer and singer Amirtha Kidambi, holds forth behind a harmonium, the small keyboard instrument with hand-pumped bellows; it's commonly used in bhajan, the Indian devotional-singing tradition that was central to her musical experience while growing up in a South Indian family." Kidambi formally trained in classical music, singing works by experimental composers including Robert Ashley and Luigi Nono, but the pull of free jazz and Alice Coltrane drew her toward a different path. The influence of both Alice and John Coltrane is especially apparent on the , as is her work with composer and saxophonist Darius Jones, and her study of Carnatic music. Kidambi formally trained in classical music, singing works by avant-gardists including Nono and Stockhausen, but the pull of free jazz and Alice Coltrane drew her toward a different path. The influence of both Alice and John Coltrane is especially apparent on the new album, as is her work with composer and saxophonist Darius Jones, and her study of Carnatic music. Elder Ones performed extensively nationally and internationally, on tours and at festivals such as NYC Winter Jazzfest, Berliner Festspiele in Germany and Festiwal Jazz Jantar in Poland, among other.

Kidambi is invested in the performance creative music, from free improvisation and jazz, to experimental bands, and new music. As an improviser, she has played with Matana Roberts, Tyshawn Sorey, Daniel Carter, Ava Mendoza, Sam Newsome, Peter Evans, Trevor Dunn, and many innovators in the New York scene. A life changing decision to create her own artistic work came from a collaboration with the late AACM founder, composer-pianist Muhal Richard Abrams', performing his Dialogue Social. Kidambi has also premiered Darius Jones' The Oversoul Manual at Carnegie Hall, Samesoul Maker at Roulette, LawNOrder at Winter Jazzfest, a premiere of electronic composer Ben Vida's work Slipping Control for voice and electronics with Tyondai Braxton at the Borderline Festival in Athens, Greece, the premiere of the late Robert Ashley's final opera CRASH at the Whitney Biennial, a Jazz Gallery commission for Mary Halvorson's Code Girl, the premiere of William Parker's Soul of Light and forthcoming recording project Voices Fall From the Sky and a commission from the Jerome Foundation for her quartet Elder Ones at Roulette and artist residency at EMPAC to record the group's debut album.

Amirtha earned a B.F.A. in Voice from Loyola Marymount University and an M.M. in Voice and Musicology from CUNY Brooklyn College, where she served as adjunct faculty. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Ethnomusicology at Columbia University."

-Amirtha Kidambi Website (http://www.amirthakidambi.com/bio/)
12/12/2018

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Born and raised in Oakland, California, Ambrose Akinmusire (pronounced ah-kin-MOO-sir-ee) was a member of the Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble when he caught the attention of saxophonist Steve Coleman. Akinmusire was asked to join Coleman's Five Elements, embarking on a European tour when he was just a 19-year-old student at the Manhattan School of Music. After returning to the West Coast to pursue a master's degree at the University of Southern California, Akinmusire went on to attend the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in Los Angeles, where he studied with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Terence Blanchard.

In 2007 Akinmusire won the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, decided by a panel of judges that included Blanchard, Quincy Jones, Herb Alpert, Hugh Masekela, Clark Terry and Roy Hargrove. That year Akinmusire also won the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition and released his debut album Prelude...To Cora on the Fresh Sound label. He moved back to New York and began performing with the likes of Vijay Iyer, Aaron Parks, Esperanza Spalding and Jason Moran. It was also during this time that he first caught the attention of another discerning listener, Bruce Lundvall, President of Blue Note Records."

-Ambrose Akinmusire Website (http://www.ambroseakinmusire.com/biography)
12/12/2018

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"One of improvised music's most in-demand guitarists, Mary Halvorson has been active in New York since 2002, following jazz studies at Wesleyan University and the New School. Critics have called her "a singular talent" (Lloyd Sachs, JazzTimes), "NYC's least-predictable improviser" (Howard Mandel, City Arts), "one of the most exciting and original guitarists in jazz-or otherwise" (Steve Dollar, Wall Street Journal), and "one of today's most formidable bandleaders" (Francis Davis, Village Voice). The Philadelphia City Paper's Shaun Brady adds, "Halvorson has been steadily reshaping the sound of jazz guitar in recent years with her elastic, sometimes-fluid, sometimes-shredding, wholly unique style."

After three years of study with visionary composer and saxophonist Anthony Braxton, Ms. Halvorson became an active member of several of his bands, including his trio, septet and 12+1tet. To date, she appears on six of Mr. Braxton's recordings. Ms. Halvorson has also performed alongside iconic guitarist Marc Ribot, in his bands Sun Ship and The Young Philadelphians, and with the bassist Trevor Dunn in his Trio-Convulsant. Over the past decade she has worked with such diverse bandleaders as Tim Berne, Taylor Ho Bynum, Tomas Fujiwara, Ingrid Laubrock, Myra Melford, Jason Moran, Joe Morris, Tom Rainey and Mike Reed.

As a bandleader and composer, one of Ms. Halvorson's primary outlets is her longstanding trio, featuring bassist John Hébert and drummer Ches Smith. Since their 2008 debut album, Dragon's Head, the band has been recognized as a rising star jazz band by Downbeat Magazine for five consecutive years. Ms. Halvorson's quintet, which adds trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson and alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon to the trio, has released two critically acclaimed albums on the Firehouse 12 label: Saturn Sings and Bending Bridges. Most recently she has added two additional band members-tenor saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and trombonist Jacob Garchik-to form a septet, featured on her 2013 release Illusionary Sea. Ms. Halvorson also co-leads a longstanding chamber-jazz duo with violist Jessica Pavone, the avant-rock band People and the collective ensembles Thumbscrew and Secret Keeper."

-Mary Halvorson Website (http://www.maryhalvorson.com/bio/)
12/12/2018

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"One marker of bassist Michael Formanek's creativity and versatility is the range of distinguished musicians of several generations he's worked with. While still a teenager in the 1970s he toured with drummer Tony Williams and saxophonist Joe Henderson; starting in the '80s he played long stints with Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Fred Hersch and Freddie Hubbard. (As a callback to those days, Formanek recorded with hardbop pianist Freddie Redd in 2013). The bassist has played a pivotal role on New York's creative jazz scene going back to the '90s when he notably led his own quintet and played in Tim Berne's barnstorming quartet Bloodcount. Nowadays Formanek's in the co-op Thumbscrew with Brooklyn guitarist Mary Halvorson and drummer Tomas Fujiwara.

Formanek is also a composer and leader of various bands. His principal recording and international touring vehicle is his acclaimed quartet with Tim Berne on alto saxophone, Craig Taborn on piano and Gerald Cleaver on drums, which records for ECM; 2010's The Rub and Spare Change and 2012's Small Places both earned coveted five-star raves in Down Beat. Formanek writes, and the quartet plays, compositions of great rhythmic sophistication that unfold in a natural sounding way - challenging music the players make sound like lyrical free expression. His occasional groups include the 18-piece all-star Ensemble Kolossus, roping in many New York improvisers he works with. Ensemble Kolossus recorded their first CD of all Formanek originals for the prestigious ECM label in December of 2014. The CD, The Distance was released in February 2016 and in addition to numerous other accolades also received a five-star review in Downbeat!

Formanek's other recordings as leader include Wide Open Spaces and Extended Animation for quintet and Low Profile and Nature of the Beast for seven players (all on Enja), and the solo album Am I Bothering You? (Screwgun). Mirage (Clean Feed) is by the occasional improvising trio of Formanek, tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin and pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn. Thumbscrew's 2014 debut is on Cuneiform Records. Michael Formanek has also made dozens of recordings as sideman, for among others Dave Ballou, Tim Berne, Jane Ira Bloom, Dave Burrell, Harold Danko, Marty Ehrlich, Tomas Fujiwara, Gary Thomas and Jack Walrath.

As composer of works for ensembles from duo to mixed jazz and classical orchestra, Michael Formanek has received institutional support from Chamber Music America, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, the Peabody Conservatory, the Maryland State Arts Council and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. As an educator, Formanek teaches bass and other jazz courses, and leads the Jazz Ensemble at Baltimore's Peabody Conservatory."

-Michael Formanek Website (http://www.amibotheringyou.com/bio.html)
12/12/2018

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Born in Boston in 1977, Brooklyn-based drummer Tomas Fujiwara emerged during the early to mid-2000s as a valued sideman before forming his own quintet, Tomas Fujiwara & the Hook Up, which gathered accolades for blending influences such as Wayne Shorter, Taleb Kweli, and Me'Shell Ndegéocello with the experimental and unpredictable spirit of the 21st century Brooklyn creative jazz scene. After studying for eight years with drummer and educator Alan Dawson in the Boston area, Fujiwara moved to New York at the age of 17. His first performing experiences included a five-year stint beginning around the turn of the millennium with the off-Broadway show Stomp, but he also began appearing as a sideman on jazz recordings (e.g., Three Souls by the Adam Rafferty Trio in 2003) and moving in exploratory, adventurous directions.

Fujiwara developed a particularly strong collaborative relationship with New Haven, Connecticut-based cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, whose own avant-leaning ensembles have featured a number of top Brooklyn improvising musicians. Fujiwara first appeared with Bynum on two 2007 recordings, The Middle Picture by the Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet (Firehouse 12) and True Events by the Taylor Ho Bynum/Tomas Fujiwara Duo (482 Music). During the following years, the drummer appeared on the Bynum Sextet albums Asphalt Flowers Forking Paths (hatOLOGY, 2009), Apparent Distance (Firehouse 12, 2011), and Navigation (Possibility Abstracts X & XI) (Firehouse 12, 2013), and the Bynum/Fujiwara Duo album Stepwise (Nottwo, 2010). Fujiwara is also a member of Positive Catastrophe, a ten-piece outfit co-led by Bynum and percussionist Abraham Gomez-Delgado and inspired by Sun Ra and Latin jazz; the group has released two albums on Cuneiform, Garabatos Volume One (2009) and Dibrujo, Dibrujo, Dibrujo... (2012).

Another musician with whom Fujiwara has often worked, guitarist Mary Halvorson, also often travels in the same creative orbit as Taylor Ho Bynum; like Fujiwara, Halvorson is a member of the Bynum Sextet, and along with Bynum and violist Jessica Pavone, the drummer and guitarist formed the collective quartet the Thirteenth Assembly, which has recorded two albums for the Important Records label, 2009's (un)sentimental and 2011's Station Direct. Fujiwara, Halvorson, and Bynum also appeared as members of the Chicago-New York nonet Living by Lanterns, whose New Myth/Old Science album -- based on fragments of music recorded by Sun Ra in 1961 -- appeared on Cuneiform in 2012. In 2014 Cuneiform released another album featuring Fujiwara and Halvorson, the eponymous debut of Thumbscrew, a collaborative trio also including veteran bassist Michael Formanek.

Fujiwara first assembled his Hook Up quintet in 2008, later describing the bandmembers as "some of the most important musicians in my life" -- and given all of Fujiwara and Halvorson's recorded appearances together in various settings, it was no surprise that the guitarist was in the lineup. Also featuring tenor saxophonist Brian Settles, trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson, and bassist Danton Boller, Tomas Fujiwara & the Hook Up released their debut album, Actionspeak, on 482 Music in 2010. Featuring Trevor Dunn on bass in place of Boller, the group's sophomore album, The Air Is Different, arrived (also on 482 Music) in 2012.

The many other projects in which Fujiwara has played as a collaborator or sideman include the Steve Lacy tribute band Ideal Bread, the eight-piece "bhangra funk dhol 'n' brass" outfit Red Baraat, and saxophonist/clarinetist Matt Bauder's acoustic jazz quintet. "

-All Music (http://www.allmusic.com/artist/tomas-fujiwara-mn0000909926/biography)
12/12/2018

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.
track listing:


SIDEA



1. My Mind I Find In Time 6:43

2. Possibility Of Lightning 6:17

3. Storm Cloud 10:00

SIDEB



1. Pretty Mountain 6:19

2. Off The Record 5:36

3. In The Second Before 5:48

4. Accurate Hit 4:09

SIDEC



1. The Beast 5:58

2. The Unexpected Natural Phenomenon 11:29

3. Thunderhead 5:01

SIDED



1. And 6:27

2. Deepest Similar 8:14

3. Armory Beams 1:08

4. Drop The Needle 7:00
sample the album:








descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Those familiar with guitarist Mary Halvorson's numerous projects have become well-acquainted with the idiosyncratic, unorthodox, sometimes cerebral approach she takes to her craft. Halvorson's compositions are consistently thoughtful but rarely predictable and her improvising is similarly distinctive, so expecting the unexpected is par for the course. Even so, the breadth of Halvorson's interests and influences can be startling, as anyone who's heard her work with Marc Ribot's Young Philadelphians on Live in Tokyo (Yellowbird, 2015) can tell you. It only takes one listen to Halvorson and Ribot dissecting Van McCoy's disco classic "The Hustle" to realize that there are creative multitudes lurking beneath Halvorson's disarmingly cool, unflappable demeanor, and they can come from any musical direction.

Seen in this light, it is really not that surprising to encounter Halvorson's latest project, a double-CD release from a new group, Code Girl, which is perhaps best described as avant-jazz-indie rock. The "rhythm section" of the group consists of Halvorson's long-standing colleagues drummer Tomas Fujiwara and bassist Michael Formanek, who both play with her in their trio Thumbscrew. They are joined by vocalist Amirtha Kidambi, a remarkably creative and adventurous musician in her own right, whose album Holy Science (Northern Spy, 2016) by her band the Elder Ones was a pleasant surprise, fusing Indian classical and drone music with the spirit of free jazz. The group is completed by trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, a veteran of many genre-straddling projects, including work with Steve Coleman and Vijay Iyer, before becoming a more well-known commodity in recent years.

All the compositions on Code Girl are Halvorson's, and they bear her imprint-well-designed structures and striking harmonies, with enough openness to allow spontaneity and collaboration to emerge organically with her partners. Halvorson also penned the lyrics for the record. But Kidambi's versatility as a vocalist goes far beyond her ability to deliver a lyric; her note-bending leaps and bursts of ecstatic intensity allow her to contribute to the music as an equal, the instrument of her voice becoming essential to interpreting Halvorson's music; for this reason her wordless vocalizations are often her most compelling moments on the album. The fluidity of her approach is ideal for Halvorson's compositions, as she can follow Halvorson's intricate lines with aplomb, but without the sense that she is confined by them; she's always seeking paths to freedom within the parameters of the piece, something that characterizes the contributions of all five players. Akinmusire similarly finds plenty of outlets for impassioned playing here, either by tracing the contours of Halvorson's melodies or by utilizing more abstract techniques.

With fourteen pieces and almost 90 minutes of music, there's a lot to take in, although most of the pieces run for between five and seven minutes, allowing Halvorson's well- built pieces to develop their ideas without overstaying their welcome. The format allows for Halvorson's tuneful side to emerge even more prominently than usual, but there's nothing cloying or facile about these melodies. The opener, "My Mind I Find in Time" sees Halvorson introducing a deceptively simple looped passage that could pass initially for an Afrobeat riff, before settling into a steady groove around a folk-like melody sung by Kidambi with a winsome ostinato accompaniment from Halvorson and some lovely counterpoint by Akinmusire. But as Kidambi alternates between wordless expressions and Halvorson's poetic phrases, the band builds in intensity, Formanek and Fujiwara gradually expanding the unsettling reach of the song; and during a vigorous Akinmusire solo, the rock inflections become more pronounced and assertive, Halvorson's trademark bent-notes emerging to put her unmistakable stamp on the piece. And that's just the first track, a tightly-wound, potent melding of rock and jazz idioms with a character all its own.

Other pieces, like "Possibility of Lightning," possess Halvorson's signature labyrinthine lines, navigated skillfully by Kidambi and Akinmusire, with Fujiwara and Formanek playing with the tempo, whether surging behind Halvorson's energetic solo or by tightening or releasing the tension under Akinmusire and Kidambi. And then there's the hard-hitting onslaught of "In the Second Before," where Akinmusire brings some of his most rough-edged, out-leaning playing on the album, right before the band explodes with its heaviest intensity.

Despite the rock sensibility that permeates the record, there's too much creativity and imagination present for the music to risk becoming monotonous or constricting. This is why the longer pieces, like "Storm Cloud" or "The Unexpected Natural Phenomenon" may be the best windows into the group's distinctive sound. They offer substantial room for exploration; tunes emerge at first plainly, but they inevitably evolve as the band digs into them, Kidambi's vocals heading into the stratosphere or Halvorson's winding phrases shadowed or commented upon by Formanek and Fujiwara, with Akinmusire also a pivotal part of the conversation, as the band simply goes where the music leads.

Halvorson has always excelled at balancing form and freedom, and nowhere is that more evident than in the music on Code Girl. This is another bold step in Halvorson's continued evolution as a musician, and she is fortunate to have just the right ensemble for such an ambitious and multifaceted project."-Troy Dostert, All About Jazz

Also available on CD.
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